Being teachers, being women, being human: critically re-storying teacher praxis in selected DEIS schools in Ireland, 2013-2015
Kelly, Mary B.
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A growing body of recent literature on teaching has developed a focus on teachers’ perspectives and on life in schools, (Clandinin, 1986; Clandinin and Connelly, 1995; Freeman and Schmidt, 2000; Jalongo and Isenberg with Gerbracht, 1995; Kubler LaBoskey, 2002; Ladson-‐Billings, 2009; Lyons, 2010; Nias, 1989; and Nieto, 2003, 2005). These studies take teachers’ accounts of teaching as the focal point and investigate teacher knowledge in order to help us understand how teachers think and understand what they do. Within some studies tensions between the ‘official’ and ‘unofficial’ discourses of schooling are troubled (Burke, 2007; Deegan 2007; Keating, 1998; Nieto, 2005). These studies demonstrate the privileging of ‘structural matters’ over ‘reflectivity, constructivism and diversity’ (Deegan, 2007:185). This body of scholarship exposes a gap in our current knowledge about the ‘ideological, moral and emotional dimensions of teaching and teacher education’ (ibid: 185, 186). This gap relates to ‘substantive attitudes, values, beliefs, habits, assumptions, [and] ways of doing things’ (Fullan and Hargreaves, 1992:219). This study contributes to addressing those gaps by critically re-‐storying teachers lives in selected DEIS1 schools in Ireland. Two classical epistemological pillars support the study, one Interpretive, drawing on Pragmatism and Phenomenology, the other Critical. Feminist, Critical and Post-‐Critical perspectives on pedagogy create the contemporary theoretical platform. The study adopts a Feminist Emancipatory and Narrative Inquiry stance. The Narrative Inquiry methodology supports the critical investigation of teacher praxis troubling how teachers story their lives. Nine teachers, engaged in the inquiry over a seventeen-‐month period between 2013 and 2015, five secondary teachers and four primary teachers. The study inquires into the ‘contextual relationality’ of being teachers in DEIS schools through constructions of self, students, school and pedagogy. The thesis contributes epistemological insights into the ideological, emotional, moral and spiritual dimensions of teaching. It demonstrates how inscriptions of gender identity, biography, culture and experience intersect with the contextual realities of teaching in DEIS schools. It also demonstrates the humanity of teachers, the demands and challenges teaching poses for them and the implications of these demands for teacher and student wellbeing. The study demonstrates the ‘contextual relationality’ of being teachers, women, and human. Consequently, it contributes to understanding the complexity of the relationship between teacher awareness and the possibilities for transformative pedagogical practice in DEIS schools.
DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools)